The Progress of the Seedlings: Hookah: Smokers are Heroes

I still haven’t fully recovered from an almost sleepless night on Wednesday/Thursday prior to my flight home, so I have yet to get my brain in gear. So tonight, I’ll just keep it simple.

Readers might remember that I germinated my baccy plant seeds several weeks ago. Here is how the plants look now:

2016-04-14 16.24.44

The pots are only 2″ (about 5 cm) so you can see that the plants are doing very well. But the roots are still not extensive (I took one plant out of its pot to check). All that foliage is deceptive. It is all water. Beneath the surface of the compost, there are lots of small roots which occupy only around a quarter of the pot, but they soak up lots of water.

I was planning to plant them out around 1st May – in a fortnight’s time – but I think that I can delay that intention. Rose would remind me that there is still the possibility of frost in early May, but I have a means of countering a mild frost by covering the plants with 2 litre pop bottles like this:

2015-06-15 20.46.22

But there is not much point in planting out if the roots of the plants are not well developed. In any case, delaying for another couple of weeks will allow the soil to warm up a little – not as much ‘transplant shock’. So I am planning on planting out mid May. What is wonderful is that the plants in a much, much better condition than last year, when I made lots of mistakes.


I said that I was intent upon trying a hookah while I was away. The particular bar which had hookah paraphernalia last time that I went still had the pipes on the tables outside. I enquired about costs, and was told that a pipe cost €20 for up to four smokers, and more than €20 if there were more than four smokers. Much as I love to experiment, there is a line. I can get 100 cigs for €20, and the idea of consuming the equivalent of 100 cigs, in cost terms,  in about 40 minutes did not fill me with enthusiasm. Also, I saw only one group of youths using a pipe during the week that I was there. That is not surprising because, although sunny, there was a chill wind all week. It was fine to walk around in the sun in tee-shirt and shorts, but not so much so to sit for an hour. Not many people seemed to appreciate the value of a jersey. I donned my jersey when I got cold, and watched others shiver. At night, I marvelled at the youth’s ability to sit outside bars in the cold in skimpy clothing. Good for them. Personally, I wore a tee-shirt, a shirt, a jersey and my coat. I was warm. I would have been happy to wear long-johns, but I did not think to pack such apparel.

Of course, the only reason for wearing warm clothes is the smoking ban. A few years ago, I would have moved indoors rather than sit outside. At my favourite bar, there were a couple of women who sat inside and came out for a smoke, much as people do in the UK. I fail to see the point of going to sunnier climes if you do exactly the same on holiday that you do at home. The only difference for them was that they did not need to wear overcoats when then sat outside for their ten minutes of smoking.

Have I suggested a miserable week of coldness? If so, I apologise. Apart from the first full day, last Friday, when it rained all day and was jolly cold, the week was blue skies and sunny. But there are always ‘work arounds’. Just in case I was ‘confined to quarters’ by the weather, I bought a litre of grouse whiskey and a 2 litre bottle of lemonade. In the event, I was not confined, but a tot of whiskey before going down to dinner was quite nice.

I made my meals into banquets. My evening meal especially, at which I has seven courses – two bowls of different soups, a snack of shrimps and coleslaw and such, lamb cutlets or whatever and some vegetation, a piece of cake smothered in runny chocolate, a few pieces of melon, and cheese and biscuits. Half a bottle of red wine added to the serendipity.

I read my thick book. It was a good story. And I played lots of games of chess on my electronic chess set. One night, sitting outside the best disco in town around 2 am, a group of youths invited me to join them. One guy challenged me to a game of chess. I accepted, but challenged all four of his group, provided that I could play the white pieces. I won easily. But that is not important. What is important is that we integrated easily and became good friends, if only for an hour or so.

While on my solitary trips, I observe. I noticed especially that there are lots of older people still smoking. At home, you do not see them because they no longer go to pubs, but they sit outside bars in sunnier climes. But there are also lots and lots of youths smoking.

I think that smoking is becoming heroic. Smokers are becoming heroes, because they they epitomise rebellion. The Tobacco Control Empire wants legislators to quash the rebellion, but resistance mounts. Smokers are heroes just like the French Resistance in WW2, but in a different way and to a different degree. We defy ‘political correctness’, which is just another phrase which is a cover for eugenics. Fat politicians decry smoking and thin politicians decry fatness. Both groups are corrupt. I detest them. I detest the weak Cameron who defers to the the EU apparatchiks. Cameron et al find it easy to decide to drop bombs on civilians in Syria, and to persecute smokers. But they find it impossible to defeat a few Zealots in the Medical Profession.

Only smokers are heroes who defy the Medical Profession. Vapers are not. In a few days time, the Tobacco Products Directive will come into effect. Cameron et al do not give a shit. Vaper shops will have to rebel, but they will not become heroes. They will act as publicans did, and go out of business. They will be cowards, and not heroes.

Only smokers are heroes.




12 Responses to “The Progress of the Seedlings: Hookah: Smokers are Heroes”

  1. Rose Says:

    Nice seedlings, Junican.

    But don’t trouble about the roots, you shouldn’t worry about building a root ball at this point. As soon as the roots come out of the bottom of the pot is time to pot them on.
    Tobacco plants need to spread their roots as soon as they can so that they can anchor the tall plant in the ground, I suspect that constricting the roots might make for a smaller plant.

    Rose would remind me that there is still the possibility of frost in early May and Rose would be right, not just early May either.

    It was minus 2 here last night and we are on much the same latitude, though you get winds straight off the Atlantic while we are somewhat sheltered by the Pennines.

    but I have a means of countering a mild frost by covering the plants with 2 litre pop bottles like this
    “light” maybe, but mine won’t be going out by day until they are the size of a pop bottle.

    Once they are in the ground you can’t dig them up and move them to shelter, so I would urge caution up until mid May and even beyond, mine end up in 10″ pots these days so I can still put them in the garage overnight if need be.

    I had my squashes trashed last year in late May, the low temperature eventually worked it’s way through the 50cm high polytunnel and froze the plants to ground level, not a pretty sight.
    The polytunnel was banked up outside with soil to seal all the heat in too.

    For as long as I can remember it used to be safe to plant out here after May 7th, but over the past few years it just isn’t any more.

    By strange coincidence

    Earth heading for ‘mini ice age’ within 15 years
    11th July 2015

    “River Thames could freeze over in 2030s when Northern Hemisphere faces bitterly cold winters, scientists say”

    ” Solar researchers at the University of Northumbria have created a new model of the sun’s activity which they claim produces “unprecedentedly accurate predictions”.

    They said fluid movements within the sun, which are thought to create 11-year cycles in the weather, will converge in such a way that temperatures will fall dramatically in the 2030s.

    Solar activity will fall by 60 per cent as two waves of fluid “effectively cancel each other out”, according to Prof Valentina Zharkova.”

    Maunder minimum, indicating low sunspot activity, was the name given to the period between 1645 and 1715, when Europe and North America experienced very cold winters.”

    I have a nasty feeling that they might just be right.

    • smokingscot Says:

      “I suspect that constricting the roots might make for a smaller plant.”

      You’re perfectly correct. I conducted that experiment myself and found plants in small pots grew to full maturity, but were far smaller than plants in larger pots.

      Also those in the small pots needed far more by way of fertiliser.

      Those I’d transferred to the garden grew to an impressive height, one was 7 feet tall, though the final foot or so was the bit they sprout when they flower.

      I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a bonsai on one, just to see what happens.

    • junican Says:

      I am not sure about the importance of the size of the pots. I suspect that access to sunlight is more important. I had plants in buckets on a sunny, South-facing window ledge a couple of years ago and the roots filled the bucket. Even so, the plants, although they grew perfectly well, did not produce large leaves. I was very disappointed.Someone told me that, even though the plants were exposed to the best light from the South, they were simply not getting the light enough. Those plants were ‘mini’ plants, even though they passed through their life-cycle and produced flowers and seeds. By the way, the seeds were viable seeds.

      • Rose Says:

        In my experience you have to keep the roots growing out laterally and not hit the pot wall and turn, a full sized plant needs a wide root system to anchor the plant in high winds, we will provide a stake, but the plant doesn’t know that, so it will confine itself to the radius of root space you give it.
        I try to fool mine that they are in a field from the start by potting them on fairly quickly, the wider the root run the higher the plant, or that’s how it seems to work to me.

        Pictures of tobacco roots.

      • junican Says:

        Thanks for the link – very interesting stuff. I’ve long been aware of the shape of the plant roots – how they form a sort of cone – travelling down and outwards. This year, I haven’t dug over the whole plot. I’ve dug holes where I intend to put the plants and have put fertilizer in the holes. I intend to put some home-made compost in the holes and then backfill and mix as much as I can. I have dug the holes quite wide to accommodate the extended rootball in due course.
        I’ve just had a look at several of the pots and none of them have roots coming out of the bottom yet. All I want is that the pots are reasonably full of roots so that the ‘plug’ of compost comes out of the pot in one piece. I don’t think that the roots, as they exist at the moment, are suddenly going to go mad!

      • Rose Says:

        The first roots came out of the bottom of the pot last week on mine so I potted them on one size and now the leaves have grown noticeably, after a couple of days standing still getting over the shock of repotting.
        No roots showing yet of course, but as soon as they do work their way through the new soil, they will be potted on again.

        I want giants and as I’ve also bought some Marshall’s Organic Extra to spread over the shallow roots as they grow outside in the bed, all being well, I shall get them.

      • Rose Says:

        One day, Junican, you will learn to think like a tobacco plant, it’s been around a lot longer than us.

        Peruvian diggers find 2.5 million-year-old tobacco
        November 20, 2010

        “Paleontologists in Peru have discovered fossilized tobacco in the northern Amazon that dates back to the Pleistocene Era 2.5 million years ago, the scientists said Friday.

        The compact block of tobacco, about 30 square centimeters (4.5 square inches), was found by scientists from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum earlier this week in the Maranon river basin in northeastern Peru.

        “This discovery allows us to establish that the plant dates back to the Pleistocene Era, and confirms that it originated in northern Peru,” the museum said in a statement.”

        : )

  2. Ed Says:

    Nice looking plants this year!

    Last year, I didn’t start hardening them off until second week in May. They were in the cloches in pots during the day but brought inside in the evening until the end of May. My big problem last year wasn’t being caught out by late frosts, it was those awful high winds!

    • junican Says:

      Indeed, Ed. By the way, the plants you gave me performed as their genus dictated. They grew tall, but the leaves were long and thin. But you gave me plants which were ‘heirloom’ plants in many respects. It was a brilliant experiment, but not conducive of big leaves. Maybe our climate conditions are not the best for those ‘heirloom’ plants.
      The seedlings (or rather, ‘plantlets’, as I prefer to call them) are perfect as near as damn-it. makes a big change from last year!

  3. prog Says:

    ‘CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that scientists have predicted bitterly cold winters in the 2030s, “similar to freezing conditions of the late 17th century”. In fact, the research focused solely on solar activity, and did not made any prediction about its possible future climate effects. We are happy to make this clear.’

    Oops, seems they may have upset someone. Still, the article headline slipped through the net..

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